Madagascar: an opposition rally dispersed with tear gas

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Security forces in Madagascar fired tear gas to disperse a rally called by opposition parties on Saturday ahead of elections next month, injuring former president Marc Ravalomanana, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

Several candidates hoping to defeat the incumbent President Andry Rajoelina had called the peaceful march in Antananarivo against what they call an “institutional coup” to keep him in power.

A previous march in the capital on Monday had also seen security forces fire tear gas against the demonstrators, with police saying they had been forced to intervene to restore order after the unauthorised protest.

“They choked us with tear gas,” one of the presidential candidates, Jean Brunelle, told AFP. “We were in the frontline… and they just fired just like that, without warning.”

Ravalomanana, who was ousted in a coup by Rajoelina in 2009, was injured as police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd of several hundred.

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Hery Rajaonarimampianina, another former president and opposition leader, told AFP that the march was called under “the same philosophy (as on Monday), that of ensuring respect for the law and democracy in a peaceful manner”.

Voters in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world despite vast natural resources, head to the polls to elect a president on November 9.

The European Union, the United States and nations including Britain and France have said they are following the run-up to the vote with the “greatest vigilance”.

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